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Dixie Sokolik: There is more good than evil in this country

March 27, 2019

Recently, Jim and I were very unhappy to hear that the General Conference of the United Methodist Church had adopted their old outdated traditional plan of intolerance of the LGBTQIA community. The plan actually contains punitive measures against bishops and clergy who do not comply with their unbending rules. It was hard for us to comprehend how a church following the teachings of Jesus could be so judgmental. Unfortunately, there are many churches who do exactly that with their own interpretation of the Bible or any other religion’s sacred book.

Therefore, we were encouraged to read Rev. Robert Hicks column in the Winona Daily News on March 13. He addressed his sadness for that latest decision by the United Methodist Church General Conference. He, along with many bishops, denounced the decision of intolerance. If you haven’t read his column, please look it up in the Winona Daily News.

Then on March 21, I was inspired by the words of a wonderful group of people who wrote a letter to the editor of the Winona Daily News in response to the dreadful mass shooting in mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. The shooter wrote a manifesto filled with hate and bigotry and, also praised Donald Trump as a “symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose.” (Remember Charlottesville in August of 2017?)

The shooter’s manifesto not only fills me with anger, but also a lot of fear because of the hate, bigotry and violence that seems to be growing, not only around the world, but right here in the United States. I don’t need to go into any more detail on this. All you have to do is listen and watch what have been increasing hateful words and demonstrations in our own country within the past two years.

Yes, there are extremists in all religions, including Christians. But they are not following the true meaning of spirituality. Even those who do not belong to any specific religious institution often are living a caring, loving and giving life. I realize that this topic will anger some, and I’m sorry if it does. But I don’t apologize for my sincere feelings on this.

Bigotry, ignorance, intolerance and lack of understanding for those persons who are brave enough to come out and announce their sexual orientation and religious/spiritual beliefs is against everything we should stand for. Whether one’s faith is Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu or any number of spiritual beliefs, the main thread found among all of these is love, compassion, forgiveness and tolerance.

As discouraged as I become with so much of the news these days, I am uplifted by good people like Rev. Hicks and all of the wonderful people who wrote that letter to the editor on March 21, entitled “We must speak out against hateful rhetoric and violence.”

Thank you to each of you. You reinforce my belief that there is still more good than evil in this country and around the world. We need more people like you to stand up against hate and bigotry, because those feelings should not be part of any spiritual teachings, whether an organized religion or any group of decent and loving people.